Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 23, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 23, 2009

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Cuban Pastors Released after Spurious Charges Dropped
  • India: Hindu Radicals Attack House Church, Congregants
  • Anglican Leaders Welcome New Catholic Structure
  • Back on Earth, Astronaut Reflects on Trip, Faith

Cuban Pastors Released after Spurious Charges Dropped

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that two Baptist leaders imprisoned in eastern Cuba for two weeks have been released. The spurious charges against them of "illicit financial activity" were suddenly dropped, according to Cuban church leaders. Pastors Ruben Ortiz Columbie, 68, and Francisco Garcia Ruiz, 46, were detained on 3 October while distributing humanitarian aid in Guantanamo Province. The two men were held in a Santiago prison and prevented from meeting church leaders during their imprisonment. Immediate family members were only allowed one 20-minute visit. This case comes as part of a wider deterioration in religious liberty on the island, with some religious leaders  becoming regular targets of government repression. In July, a pastor was sentenced to six years in prison for ‘falsification of documents and illicit economic activities'.

India: Hindu Radicals Attack House Church, Congregants

ASSIST News Service reports that a group of Hindu radicals viciously attacked three pastors, one woman and a child during a prayer service on Sunday. The attack occurred when a group of 10-15 members belonging to a Hindu radical group, Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks (RSS), barged into a house church in Andhra Pradesh state and assaulted the believers present in the meeting. Pastors Philip (39), Timothy and Siluvai Kumar, were attacked severely. The attackers also mercilessly beat and abused Philip's wife, Mrs. Kezia, who is almost nine months pregnant, as well as their 18-months-old daughter, Hepziba. The assailants snatched Bibles from the people inside and tore them, vandalized the musical instruments, metal doors, and windows of the house church. The attackers forcibly took Timothy to a nearby police station and accused him of desecrating a Hindu temple. Police detained the pastor temporarily.

Anglican Leaders Welcome New Catholic Structure

Christian Today reports that Anglicans welcomed the Catholic Church's invitation to those disaffected Anglicans would like to convert. "We rejoice that the Holy See has opened this doorway, which represents another step in the growing cooperation and relationship between our Churches," said the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican). Duncan's diocese left the national Episcopal Church in 2008, and Duncan now functions as Archbishop of the new Anglican Church in North America. Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns, who leads parishes in the United States that have left The Episcopal Church - the US arm of Anglicanism - believes the Vatican's move "recognizes the reality of the divide within the Anglican Communion and affirms the decision to create a new North American province that embraces biblical truth". Anglican priests who are married may serve in the Catholic Church under the new agreement, but may not become bishops.

Back on Earth, Astronaut Reflects on Trip, Faith

Baptist Press reports that Patrick Forrester, the space shuttle astronaut who carried a piece of missions aviation history into space with him on a recent Discovery flight, has little use for comfort zones. "I really encourage everybody that has not done it to go on at least a short-term mission trip, whether it's across town or around the world, because I think it's life-changing to see the need out there and the way that we can impact people," Forrester told Baptist Press. He encourages people to get personally involved in sharing the Gospel outside their comfort zones. A deacon at University Baptist Church in Houston, Forrester carried with him a piece of the battery box from martyred missionary pilot Nate Saint's Piper PA-14 airplane when the space shuttle Discovery docked at the international space station in late August.